The Value of a Mentor
Frankly, having a mentor can be terrific for your career.
A mentor can:
- Help you reach career goals.
- Encourage you during rough patches or career challenges you inevitably will encounter.
- Provide constructive feedback.
- Hold you accountable for your actions.
- Hold you accountable for reaching your stated career goals.
- Introduce you to people who can help you grow in your career.
- Increase your chance of getting a raise and/or promotion.
First, understand that a good mentor doesn’t have to be someone with a lot more experience than you
Many mentors could be someone who has been doing what you want to do for just a few years; they don’t need to be 10, 20, or more years older than you. They could even be one of your peers, as long as they provide excellent advice relevant to your experience and goals. A mentor encourages and “cheers” you on. They’re readily available when you have questions or need advice.
Second, understand that anyone – no matter where they are in their career – will find a mentor valuable.
No matter how long you’ve been working, everyone can benefit from someone who keeps them on track, tells them the truth even when they don’t want to hear it, and listens to them as they think things through.
A mentor can be especially helpful if you feel stuck in your career and aren’t quite sure where you want to go. You don’t want to use the person as a “career counselor,” of course, but having a mentor you can go to as you figure out “what you want to be when you grow up” – especially if you’re thinking of taking a new direction – can be invaluable.
How to find a mentor
Some employers offer formal mentorship programs. Most, however, don’t, and even if they do, they often don’t meet the expectations of the mentees and mentors.
So if you feel you’ll need to find one on your own, rest assured: it’s not hard at all because most people would be thrilled that you think enough of them to ask that they become your mentor.
You also don’t need to necessarily ask someone formally to be your mentor: many mentor/mentee relationships begin of their own accord. Let’s say you find someone with insight, experience, or advice you’ve found impactful, either because you asked them something, or you heard them speak either in a group or even in a one-off conversation the two of you happened to have and you – every so often – go to them for advice. Bingo! They are your mentor.
Steps to creating a more formal mentor/mentee relationship
- Know your goals.
What are your short- and long-term career goals? Who do you know either at work or in some other business relationship that you look up to? It’s great if this person is already in the type of role into which you want to move, but it’s not necessary.
Once you’re clear on your goals, lay out precisely what you’d like to receive from the mentor: how often would you like to meet? In-person? Where? What do you expect from them? (Be open to their revisions.) Be clear as to what you intend to do in return.
And, when you do ask, mention how much you admire them for their accomplishments, professional character, and business acumen.
It’s best if you can meet in person to make your ask. But if they work at another company, an email is acceptable (you may want to ask for a video meeting to discuss your ask in more depth).
- How to be a great mentee.
Decide on a mentorship end-date together. You definitely can extend it when you come to the end, but deciding on an end date at the onset helps you accomplish the goals you set.
Be consistent: be available for your meetings as much as possible. It’s also a good idea to set an agenda and send it to your mentor in advance. During your meeting, take notes and send a recap to your mentor afterward. These notes also should include a list of “next steps” you and your mentor agreed you should take before your next meeting.
Remember that this is a professional relationship. Personal matters will likely arise, but your mentor is not your therapist (and neither are you theirs).
Once you end the mentorship, it’s kind – and professional – to send a business-appropriate gift to your mentor. Perhaps a business book your mentor mentioned, for example.
Finally, don’t be surprised if in the future someone asks you to be their mentor. (You probably will accept: 89 percent of people once mentored become mentors themselves.)
Has someone mentored you so well that you believe you’re ready to take a step up in your career?
If so, check out The Intersect Group’s current opportunities. If anything appeals to you, follow the application directions.
Even if you don’t see any open positions that interest you, upload your resume and register with us. We constantly receive new direct-hire, contract-to-hire, and contract opportunities from our clients.